For one thing, social media has changed the entire experience. At our 10-year reunion it was fun to see what everyone looked like, who they married, where they were working, where they were living, etc. Now, through Facebook, we've already covered a lot of that ground. I know what some of them ate for dinner last week, I've seen first day of school photos and summer vacations, I've watched their children be born and grow up. Some of their children I would recognize at the park before I would recognize my own classmate.
The face to face reconnection is still far greater than anything online, but we start at a different level. As I wandered around visiting with classmates and their spouses, there wasn't a lot of small talk. With most it was like we picked up mid-conversation, like we just spoke recently and got interrupted. "How'd your son do in that golf tournament?", "How's the marathon training going?", "How do you like living in Southern CA?", "How was your recent trip to London?" Stuff like that.
Initially it seemed we had less to talk about because much of it has already been communicated. On the other hand, we got deeper quicker, and covered more ground than we ever would have otherwise in that amount of time. It was kind of cool.
I created a website with reunion information, Google RSVP and other forms, PayPal payment buttons, and such. I created a private Google+ community so we could better connect and share with each other. I encouraged everyone to use some sort of Web 2.0 tool to tell their story, and many contributed and shared. People used Prezi, Animoto, Mixbook, GoAnimate, and other tools to create short snippets of their lives since high school. They didn't have to be fancy or professional to be really fun to watch. It will be a great way to capture this milestone in our lives and maybe, depending on how the technology evolves, we will be able to look back from other reunions and see how young we looked at our 20th and where we were at.
A Call to Change the World
But isn't that what we're ultimately trying to teach our kids: to try, to reach, to make an effort, to risk, to swim no matter what pond they're dropped in, to fail, to keep on going no matter what?
I streamed using Google Hangouts on Air and more than 40 of our classmates who couldn't attend were able to watch live. Others will watch the recording. Sure, I wish I would have had a professional team that was able to man the camera, sound, and lighting. It was certainly a makeshift effort to wander around the room with my laptop, angle it just right to catch the action, all while trying to visit with people, eat, man multiple devices, and speak. It was far from perfect.
Yet, it was an effort and efforts matter. People who couldn't make it were at least able to catch a choppy glimpse of the action, which was more than they could have otherwise.
So, I'm not sure where things will be in another 5 or 10 years. Many of our children will have graduated from high school. Some of the things I briefly touched on (MOOCs, the Maker Movement, Google Glass) will have either taken off or flopped. New ideas and technology will have become ubiquitous.
We've got some hard questions to answer about education and where we're headed. My goal was to encourage everyone to keep on asking the hard questions, keep on searching, keep on reaching.
I know I will.